The Clinic Format – Is It For Everyone?

Not really…

How many of you doesn’t have a friend, or yourselves, that would have second thoughts about riding in a clinic format for a new clinician?

I always thought there’d be mostly good stuff with it – just come in to the experience thick-skinned, be ready to face up to some heavy picking apart, and sift through all the new information with a sober attitude.  Without being an ego baby about it.

Now I’m not so sure.

weeds in summer pastures
Sidebar – The law of finding horses in pasture: The hotter it is, the further you have to walk.

Auditing last weekend’s clinic was great.  But wow, I don’t think any one didn’t slink out with their tail between their legs.  Riders, not the horses.

I have complete confidence in my instructor.  Mixing things up with a completely new system right now would be confusing. Not sure how to process all new instructions at the lightning-speed most clinicians expect.

Then I’d fret about it too much, as I really want to please, do the right thing, or at least show an attempt at trying to do the right, new, thing.  Following this?…

So, no; this summer, with my wonderful, wicked-strange, gritty ball of a mare, clinicing is not on top of the list 🙂

If plans work out, we’ll still show up at a show next month.  Happy, confident, and ready to ride well.

dressage blogs

24 thoughts on “The Clinic Format – Is It For Everyone?

    1. OK, as everyone else says, it really depends on the clinician… I’ve audited a lot, and always thought it would be just fine, a learning experience etc. This time, I simply realized it is NOT for me and my greenish mare at this time. I’m all about Enjoyment and staying Happy in our work right now. I know we have plenty of shortcomings… 🙂

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  1. I am so happy for you that the clinic went well!!!!! I have done about 3 clinics so far in my riding adventure, and I would like to do more. I love how you’re not only getting taught by the person at the clinic, but also learning from everyone else who is riding with you (if it’s a group clinic.) 🙂 🙂 You and Valiosa….ahhhh, I just can’t get over how you two look just perfect together, Valiosa with her beautiful grey coat and cuteness, and you with your huge smile and perfect position…. ❤

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    1. I’ve been in about 3 clinics too, just like you, but all private, not a group setting. They have all been good, and I always thought it was no big deal – just go for it, and take away the good parts. After this one, I’ve come to realize there’s some huge differences in philosophy among all these trainers. I really want to stay in the happy camp 🙂
      If we DO get out in a clinic later on, which I think would be just so much fun and motivating, I will absolutely post about it!

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  2. I’ve ridden in many clinics and they have all been positive experiences. I also have a very thick skin. I have, however, only ridden in clinics where the clinician is one that my trainer recommends. I think that is key — there is consistency in philosophy and approach but the vocabulary and exercises vary. I find that I benefit from being able to tackle an issue from a different angle, with a focus that doesn’t contradict my trainer… if that makes sense. I love clinics — shows, not so much.

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    1. Yes to this! (Although I DO love shows, I just think it’s like a little party every time…)
      What this weekend did for me, was to confirm how I definitely don’t want to be jumping around between different approaches.
      I always thought that would be beneficial, and sort of didn’t understand some dressage riders’ reluctancy to get out there and “just test it out.” Now I do!
      So yes, you are making absolute sense here Annette.

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  3. I found out that I love/hate hard clinicians. I’ve learned the most under them, but can be highly stressful. I took 4 lessons with this one clinician who could make me jump out of my boots every time she barked an order. I’m a Marine. I’m used to that kind of thing… But this lady put drill instructors to shame! LOL!
    Best 4 lessons of my life though! I learned more in those 4 lessons then I had in weekly lessons for a year.

    Every other clinic I’ve been too (15+) have been very positive, happy, fairly easy going experiences. Just occasionally there’s one that will rock your world, so it’s always wise to research first. 😉

    Ironically, it was being demo rider for USDF L program that had me in tears afterward. That was tough…

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    1. Ah, the USDF L program demo riding… Seen it! It can be really hard when some 12-18 candidates all want to shine, along with their Highly Accredited Judge, and absolutely pick apart the ride from each and every angle. EEEK!
      I rode in one, and was lucky to have a good and supportive team. It was actually a good and fun experience, and for most of the critique, the rider was in the middle of a test and couldn’t focus and hear much in detail.
      Then they’d leave the “nitty gritty” points out until you’d walked out – this is where the candidates got to try their best at picking at everything.
      I ended up really liking the format, and listened in after riding to many of the rides.
      It can be set up either constructively, or completely rip the rider apart.
      I think this is a bit of a backside of the sport – sometimes it can be very harsh… I’ve been spared, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much.

      On that thought – I want a drill instructor lesson soon. Want to test it out! 🙂

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  4. I’ve never understood the mystique that surrounds harsh, hyper-critical instructors in any discipline. High standards and rigor are great, but making students fearful only creates an additional barrier to learning. In my never-said-I-was-humble opinion, that is 🙂

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    1. The mystique! That’s what nails it! I don’t, refuse, to believe in it. Either instruction is good, constructive, yes, rigorous, but not suicide-inducing. Or it’s simply not all that good from and athletic standpoint.
      And that’s what we are, right? – Athletes, with our horses.
      I’ve written on this before, and as you say – fear creates a barrier to learning. It does – and it’s been proven! (I just wasn’t able to word it that eloquently.)

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  5. I’m very careful about who I clinic with. I have done many over the years and have a thick skin but I need to take a lesson that fits in with my training program- not go against it.

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    1. There you go – you’re one of those riders who I never fully understood in the past. (But NOW I do, all the way.) I figured it would be just fine, move on, ignore the blatantly atrocious and only pay attention to the parts that would be truly constructive to The Current Training Program At Home.
      Well, I know better now, after going at it for long, and I’m on your side! 🙂

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  6. Interesting post. I will not ride with a clinician that I do not know. I will audit a clinic first and if I think their approach to the riding and training works with the two coaches I have then the next time I would ride in their clinic. .

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    1. In all honesty Anne, from now on, this is what I’ll stick to too now.
      As in my previous comments on this post – I simply never realized how completely different the approaches would be, and then, once you’re in there, it’s too late to back out…
      The great part, is that in a clinic, a “new” eye can effectively pick out some strange habits, and come with solutions from a different angle – this is why I continue to think riding in a clinic is fun! But I probably never really took the message about “auditing first” truly to hear. Just didn’t think it would be too big of a deal.

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      1. I have not had a bad experience myself but I have seen it happen to others and it has made me wary. It can take a long time to overcome a bad experience and if it confuses the horse then it is a real chore. Auditing is always good for learning anyway.

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  7. I went to a clinic last year with a trainer I hadn’t ever audited or ridden with, with high hopes…and it was not an awesome experience. I still got something out of it, because I always challenge myself to find the lesson in everything, but unfortunately one of the lessons was to always audit with an unknown trainer first before trailering three hours away to ride for them. 😛 😉

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    1. This! So, seriously Tonia, I never really thought it would apply to me that I’d have to audit first. Just figured – you know – come in with a realistic expectation and just go with it. Something good should come out of it.
      Well, heh, I’m in your “auditing first camp” now too!…

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